Just saying the word coronavirus strikes fear into most people these days. No wonder as The World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global health emergency. But now the worry is spreading to concern about pets catching this virus. So we thought it would be a good time to ask, can my Yorkie get the coronavirus?
What Is This New Coronavirus?
First, it’s helpful to know that all coronavirus is not the same. The current virus is 2019-nCoV, commonly referred to as the ‘novel coronavirus.’ The recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, on December 31, 2019. Why is it called ‘novel?’ Because it had not been reported in humans prior. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people (source).
- Respiratory symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing difficulties
- Severe cases can include pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death
The Coronavirus Impact
According to many news outlets, dog owners in China are buying face masks for their dogs. Their thinking is that these masks help to prevent coronavirus infections in their pooches. One media organization reported tweets that show dogs wearing masks with words indicating that dogs are also a means of spreading the virus. This isn’t just overseas either – the dog mask approach is here in the United States too!
A Texas-based company that produces the K9 Masks, Good Air Team, had a 300% increase in sales, which bled their inventory dry. With the vast majority of sales allocated to domestic customers.
But, Can My Yorkie Get The Novel Coronavirus?
At present, there is absolutely no evidence that companion animals, like our precious Yorkies, can be infected with the new novel coronavirus. However, as with any zoonotic virus, it’s good practical practice to wash your hands with hot water and soap throughout the day. This will help protect you and your pets against common bacteria.
What About Other Coronaviruses?
While not able to get the novel coronavirus, all dogs including Yorkies can contract certain types of coronaviruses such as the canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV). However, the most common type is those that are enteric – meaning coronavirus occurring in the intestines. Generally speaking, most cases of canine coronavirus are due to oral contact with infected fecal matter. These types of coronaviruses cause diarrhea in dogs and may require veterinary intervention.
Signs of Canine Coronavirus
Most coronavirus infections are subclinical, meaning it’s unlikely that your Yorkie will show intense outward signs. Occasionally, and particularly with young puppies, an infection may cause the following:
- Diarrhea brought on suddenly
- Decreased appetite
Some FAQs – According to the WHO
Wait… who is the WHO?
WHO is an acronym for the World Health Organization. The WHO is a specialized part of the United Nations with a focus on international public health. Established in 1948, the WHO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and coordinates with 61 countries to eradicate communicable diseases.
Can I catch 2019-nCoV from my pet?
No, at present there is no evidence that companion animals like dogs have been infected or have spread 2019-nCoV.
How does this virus spread?
The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus that spreads through contact with an infected person via respiratory droplets (e.g. coughing, sneezing, or saliva or nose discharge).
Whew, That’s Good News… Right?
Yes, it is. Yorkie’s, like all dogs, cannot get the new novel coronavirus that is making headlines. Infections between humans and domesticated animals is theoretically possible because we share similar receptors on the surface of our cells. That’s what zoonotic really means in layman’s terms: when an animal virus is able to bind to a human cell receptor, it makes us sick. The pet-related hullabaloo behind the current outbreak is likely due to the fact that we share similar cell receptors with bats – which are known carriers of this new, novel virus.
But it’s a stretch to extrapolate that to dogs. Why? Because our cell receptors are just too different when compared to dogs.
Now you know why there’s absolutely no reason to fret. Your Yorkie simply cannot get the novel coronavirus.